With the long summer holiday having just past many parents probably discovered that one of the most difficult – and never-ending – parts of parenthood is keeping your children occupied. Not only during break times but at weekends, too. Another difficult part is making sure they have enough money to spend on treats, books and holidays. Thankfully, once children get to the age of seven or eight, you can combine these two problems and see them off with one easy solution – putting your kids to work.
THIS DOESN’T MEAN SENDING THEM UP CHIMNEYS
As this is illegal! No, all it means is giving your children something to plan for and do that also brings in a few pounds. By far the best ideas are a lemonade stall outside your house, a cake sale or a yard sale. For older children, asking neighbours and even local businesses if they want cars washing, gardens weeded or fences painted is great as well.
It’s a win-win situation – they’re occupied and happy and you save a few quid and teach them about the value of money.
SOME THINGS TO REMEMBER
With younger children, sales outside your house mean you can keep an eye on them and help out. Keeping to your own patch also means they’re not annoying people who really don’t want cakes, not even with extra sprinkles. You should also tell your older children not to call on anyone with no cold-caller signs – if they’ve been to a signage company for one, then they really don’t like unexpected visitors.
THE PREPARATION PHASE
You are likely to be involved in this. Bake and ice a big batch of cupcakes and get together some homemade lemonade in the morning, ready for the event itself. It is a lovely way to spend time as a family. You need to advertise the stall, so put up a notice – with prices – and set up a table and chairs. People will be more likely to stop and buy goodies if there’s a parasol and a cool box there, too. People want to know the cakes and drinks are safe.
Once everything’s set up, give the kids a change float and then sit nearby reading a book. Job done! You might even turn a profit on your investment in the flour and lemons if your kids are good salespeople.
PREPARING THE OLDER KIDS
Older children – 12 and up – can spend a day designing and printing out or hand-drawing leaflets to post through local letterboxes and displaying in shop windows. Make sure people know it’s a time-limited offer, with definite dates that they’re available.
They can offer car washes for between £2.00 and £5.00, depending on age and expertise, as well as weeding from £4.00 per hour. Dog walking for a couple of pounds or even giving pets a good clean. You know your area best, so if you think these prices are a bit steep, then adjust accordingly.
For the car wash, clients can pull up outside your house, but if some of the weeding jobs are a few streets away, you’ll need at least one of the children to have a phone with them and they’ll need to stay together. Their safety comes first and is far more important than money. You’ll also need to know where they’re going (unless you already know the household personally) before they set off, as well as how long they’ll be.